Are we there yet? I guess that is only a matter of perspective, and it entirely depends on your determination of where in your mind that "there" is for you. I mean, you must have a destination in mind, to have some sort of an idea about how far along you are in your journey, and what is still left to go; or you might even have arrived already or passed it long ago, without even realizing it. Otherwise, "wherever you are, you are already there", right?
At the very least, even if the exact destination is not clearly pinpointed out prior to the departure; if you don't want to aimlessly wonder around (maybe even in a circle) then at least a general direction should be decided upon. As they used to say more than a century ago "go west young man"; and then decide down the line, along your journey where that "there" is for you to unload the wagons, settle and call it home.
There might be plenty of reasons for taking the journey, as was the case in the old west, or even yet, for departing the old continent and coming to the colonies in the new world, a couple of centuries further back. But then the strong motivation and the intense desire to do better and have a better future were the main driving forces for taking the many risks associated with travel. I am convinced that strong will and determination; besides diehard perseverance in overcoming the obstacles and not giving up the dream, were the main characteristics that played the most important role in the success of our country during the past few centuries.
The first step then is having the desire and the will to travel. But then, to have a purposeful journey and enhance the odds of reaching the destination safe, sound and within a reasonable time frame, logic dictates taking some preparatory measures. Once we establish where it is that we are going, then we need to find out about the possible routes to the destination, and then just as importantly, the required tools and resources to get us there. Having a map is of tremendous value in showing the available routes, and also identifying the need for pacing the trip with midway stops along the route for the much longer destinations.
No, this article is not promoting the Travel Channel. The intent of this article and the purpose of using the travel analogies were to show that during the past half a century, we in the fire service, have indeed come a very long way in addressing the fire problem in our country. My friends, from the very bottom of my heart, and with an optimistic perspective, I want to clearly state that "the glass" certainly appears to be half full indeed. And we must take pride in our accomplishments in reducing our country's total annual fire fatalities and the annual total cost of fires respectively during the past half a century.
But then, with all sincerity, are we there yet? Using the travel analogies above, to be able to answer this rather simple question, we must first address the fundamental question of where we believe that "there" is for us? It is only after identifying our goals, objectives, and the desired outcomes, that we can have a better assessment of our journey through the decades, and our current whereabouts with respect to our desired final destination.
Believe you me, I am not pessimistically focusing on the half empty part of "the glass" when I asked that question. It is just; I believe that my professional obligation demands a more in-depth historical look at the status of "the glass", with the mere intent of filling it to the rim.
I believe that the difference between pessimists and optimists is not merely in their analyzing of the past or evaluating of the present; but more importantly, it is in their view of the future, and their own role in shaping that future.
I believe that pessimists' negativities in their perspectives stem from their lack of resolve to change the status quo. Optimists' on the other hand, play a more active role in shaping their future. Then call me an optimistic fool, since my intent for writing all these articles have all along been to eradicate the complacencies deposited by the passage of decades, positively change the status quo, and actively participate in building a better and safer future.